The 36th Ordinary Session of the African Union Executive Council officially opened Thursday, at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The meeting is being held under the AU Theme of the Year 2020, “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development”.
The Silencing the Guns in Africa is a flagship project of Africa’s Agenda 2063, which aims to achieve a conflict-free continent, prevent genocide, make peace a reality for all and rid the Africa of wars, civil conflicts, gender-based violence, and violent conflicts.
The 2-day session is being attended by members of the Executive Council i.e Foreign Ministers of AU Member States, leadership of the AU Commission and AU organs, members of the diplomatic corps, and representatives of partner organisations, who strongly condemned and the devastating effect of war on the continent’s socio-economic development. The speakers underlined some of the challenges leading to violent conflicts across Africa as poverty, historical injustices, inequality, unemployment, climate change, illegal financial flows, and corruption and bad governance.
H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the AU Commission, opened discussions at the meeting saying efforts to maintain peace and security on the continent was being stifled by security threats and challenges such as terrorism and extremism leading to repeated deadly attacks that put the lives of African citizens in danger, causing forced displacement of people as well as the phenomenon of youths risking their lives in the Mediterranean in search of greener pasture abroad.
H.E Mahamat also spoke on the new threats posed by the Ebola virus creating havoc in the Great Lakes region and the worrying prevalence of the coronavirus, which he said, required the sustained attention of African public health institutions, alongside the efforts of the AU’s Africa Centre for Disease Control (Africa CDC). He also noted Africa’s collective pride in the aftermath of the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), calling on AU Member States to actively take part in the negotiation meetings ahead of the successful implementation of the AfCFTA.
Also addressing the meeting, Vera Songwe, executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) emphasized the challenges which Africa must overcome, in order to promote peace and mitigate arm conflicts. She said for a strategy on silencing the guns to be successful, there was need to build more inclusive societies, in quest of which, the AU had an important role to play. “A strategy to silence the guns must be strategy to improve the governance of our societies, to build more transparent decision making process, to demand more inclusive and strong institutions underpinned by the rule of law,” she said.
H.E Sameh Hassan Shoukry, outgoing chairperson of the Executive Council cum Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Arab Republic of Egypt, noted that many positive achievements were recorded by the Egypt-led Council in 2019, across different socio-economic and political areas. He however acknowledged that many challenges relating to “silencing the guns”, IDPs, economic integration, the implementation of the AfCFTA, still needed to be overcome. The outcomes of the Executive Council meeting will be presented to the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government which taking place 9-10 February 2020.
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